Bĕijīng train station - the big board isn't much help if
you don't read Chinese!
The Spring Temple Buddha (鲁山大佛) in Lǔshān Xiàn
county (鲁山县) Hénán is 428 feet (128m) tall, which makes
it the tallest statue in the world.
Bi Gan Temple (比干庙) near Xīnxiāng (新乡)
Jīng (I Ching)
(易经) is one of the oldest Chinese texts (here's
The Yì Jīng Ruins site near the city of Mèngzhōu
(孟州) in Jiāozuò Prefecture (焦作) of northern Hénán
The site has both extremely old artifacts relating to the
Yì Jīng, as well as some English language explanations.
Some of the explanations can be a little tricky, as you can see here,
so it's good to do a little research before arriving.
The author of the sign in the parking lot advising
visitors to lock their car doors could use a little tutoring.
They got the point across, though.
The Shàolín Temple (少林寺) at Sōng Shān (嵩山
= Song Mountain) is the original home of Shaolin-style kung fu
and one of the oldest Chán (Zen) Buddhist temples. The
Shaolin practice several styles of martial arts in the temple and are
known for amazing athleticism and extraordinary feats. Shaolin
kung fu was made famous in America by the old television series
starring David Carradine.
The Shàolín Temple is still a place where people go to
study Chán (Zen) Buddhism, as well as train in kung fu.
The students put on shows to help raise money to support their
school. In the show, three volunteers are selected from the
audience to try some kung fu moves, and Anthony got the chance.
Anthony is around 6'4" (193 cm) and 165-275 pounds (120-125 kg), and
he's an ardent weight lifter, so he's all muscle and bone.
Luckily, his mother teaches yoga and she made sure Anthony learned to
stretch because some of the diving roles and movements Anthony was
asked to do in front of the crowd were very gymnastic. Anthony
did a great job and won the hearts of the audience quickly with his
personality and enthusiasm.
Anthony coming out of a diving roll at the kung fu
demonstration at the Shàolín Temple.
The Shàolín Temple is not just a tourist
destination, nor a mere martial arts academy - rather it is a spiritual
place where people go to study Buddhism.
These are monuments to great leaders of the
Shàolín Temple who have died and returned to
(reference to Zen master Hoshin's final words poem:
I came from brilliancy
And return to brilliancy.
What is this?
(quoted from Zen Flesh - Zen Bones
One finds inspirational signs like this one posted above
each toilet at the Shàolín Temple. Toilets do
strike me as a great place for inspirational posters because people
have time to stop and think.
Dinner with Henan
We met with the Henan Geological Survey - specifically
their mineral deposits division. Some people spoke English,
others Chinese, but the discussions were always interesting. The
Henan Survey has some good people.
We were treated to some of the local delicacies.
These fried scorpions served on fried rice noodles weren't bad.
These fried grub worms were actually quite tasty once one
got over the idea of sticking a big, thumb-sized worm in one's
mouth. I would be fine if these things were standard fare.
The air was very hazy the entire time we were
there. The haze had a slightly yellow/brown color, so it wasn't
just a continuous fog, rather it had a healthy dose of smog thrown
The mountains were relatively steep, so the local farmers
had to terrace the land for farming.
The streets were widely used for drying harvested
grains. Among the grains grown here was sorghum - the key
ingredient for making báijiŭ
(白酒 = a very strong, colorless "white" liquor).
Typical roadside housing in rural Hénán
Typical view of the Qinling Mountains.
Farmers working in the late afternoon
fields. Each family has their own plot of land that they
More farmers with two of their motorbikes for
transporting their tools. Most people appear to work in pairs,
which I imagine could be pretty therapeutic.
Pingdingshan City - a small city by Chinese
standards. Most people live in big apartment buildings like
A truly forbidden city! We stopped to stay the
night here, but were kicked out by the police because no westerners
were allowed. Our hosts were clearly embarrassed by our ejection
and tried to explain by telling us that the city is near a military
base... or near a gold mine... or near a gold mine owned by the
military (the reasons varied). Personally, I really don't care
about military bases and political stuff - it was just a minor nuisance
that kept us up a little later that night because we had to drive to
the next city (an hour's drive away).
Police escorting us out of the city with lights
on. In retrospect, it's an amusing little experience. I
feel a little bad for the police who had to accompany us, although they
may have enjoyed the break in their routine work.
Another fairly typical small city view. There is a
lot of construction going on all over Hénán.
Shops in rural Hénán
An old fellow in rural Hénán. Seeing
folks like this always makes me wonder what they've seen in their
Recycle wagon in rural Hénán
The everywhere-present piles of bricks typical of... everywhere
They are definitely building things!
Farmer transporting hay
Hénán farmers make really great
More bricks, recycled bottles, and edible fungus in sticks
The wok used for cooking all meals at a small ma-and-pa
roadside "diner" in rural Hénán.
The ingredients for some nice soup prepared by the
Old man smoking a really long, ornate pipe. I
suppose the long tube would allow the smoke to cool. He
apparently can adjust the air mix through the hole he's using in this
Old man smoking his long, ornate pipe from the end.
Note he has his thumb over the air hole at the midpoint on the long
Kids are great everywhere in the world. Chinese
kids are definitely among my favorite encountered in my various
travels. They have such great, curious, and enthusiastic
Loads of straw can get pretty big. The suspension
on this truck appears to be sagging a bit on the right.
Tiny tractors like this are fairly common. They may
not be the monster-sized beasts we have here in the U.S., but they get
the job done!
Fresh fruit was always available from roadside stands
like this one.
One of the Chinese members of our group owned several
coal processing plants, so we got a fascinating tour. "Lăobăn"
(老板) was a great guy - very considerate of others. He's one of
the only Chinese people I've known who smoke, but are very
conscientious about nonsmoking people around him.
Lăobăn also had a steel smelting facility. This
was an amazing facility that specialized in some unusual alloys.
As much as I like geology, this was one of the most interesting stops
we made during the trip. These are used cupolas from which the
molten steel is poured.
Pouring molten steel from a cupola.
Guys working around the smelting furnace.
One of the furnace intakes
A view inside the smelting furnace. This photo was
taken with a telephoto lens because it was far too hot to approach
without the special protective gear worn by the workers.
Feeding fuel into the furnace
A couple of bosses talk while workers poke the hole from
which the steel pours into the cupola. The hole can plug up with
cooling steel - thus the need to poke the hole to keep it open.
Happy workers after a shift.
Slag waste bricks
When one smelts ore into metal, the silicate component of the ore melts
and floats on top like an artificial lava. That artificial lava
is poured off as waste and cooled into "rock" called slag.
A beautiful ancient river channel exposed in a recent
dozer cut near the smelter